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J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Apr;131(4):907-15. doi: 10.1038/jid.2010.417. Epub 2010 Dec 30.

Noninvasive in vivo imaging to evaluate immune responses and antimicrobial therapy against Staphylococcus aureus and USA300 MRSA skin infections.

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Division of Dermatology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Staphylococcus aureus skin infections represent a significant public health threat because of the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains such as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA). As greater understanding of protective immune responses and more effective antimicrobial therapies are needed, a S. aureus skin wound infection model was developed in which full-thickness scalpel cuts on the backs of mice were infected with a bioluminescent S. aureus (methicillin sensitive) or USA300 community-acquired MRSA strain and in vivo imaging was used to noninvasively monitor the bacterial burden. In addition, the infection-induced inflammatory response was quantified using in vivo fluorescence imaging of LysEGFP mice. Using this model, we found that both IL-1α and IL-1β contributed to host defense during a wound infection, whereas IL-1β was more critical during an intradermal S. aureus infection. Furthermore, treatment of a USA300 MRSA skin infection with retapamulin ointment resulted in up to 85-fold reduction in bacterial burden and a 53% decrease in infection-induced inflammation. In contrast, mupirocin ointment had minimal clinical activity against this USA300 strain, resulting in only a 2-fold reduction in bacterial burden. Taken together, this S. aureus wound infection model provides a valuable preclinical screening method to investigate cutaneous immune responses and the efficacy of topical antimicrobial therapies.

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